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  • Writer's pictureLinda Odhner, with photos by Liz Kufs

Excerpted Inspirations #115

[Sixteen-year-old Kirsti Junnola has come from Finland with her family to America to live.  Young rancher Tom Kincaid is her suitor.  Kirsti's stepmother has recently given birth to a boy.]      When he had hitched the team to the sled again, he took his place on the driver's seat, his very nearness disturbing her pleasantly.  Until the sled was through the drift he had broken, he gave his attention to guiding them, but when he stopped to rest them for a moment, he turned to her.       "You all right, Kirsti?"  When she nodded, he asked, as if almost afraid of her answer, "Your mother?  The baby came?  They're both all right?"  Again she nodded, wordless, and he seemed relieved.  "Good," he said.  "Then Sirka was in time?  Marja told me about it."      "No.  Not in time."      "Not --" He looked at her sharply.  "Then -- you? Good Lord!  What did you do?"      "Helped.  Tyyne told me.  No one else to help."  And then, stumbling, seeking for the right English words, she told him what she had learned about necessity.  "When thing has to get done, you can."      "I know," he said soberly.  "But doing what has to be done takes a lot of courage."      "Not courage.  More.  Finns call sisu."  She tried to explain what the word meant.  "These -- here, and here," pointing to her head, and then her heart, "turn big and strong.  Help you do."       "I get it.  Spirit takes over and shoves out fear and weakness."  He was looking at her now in astonishment and unhidden admiration.  "Well, by darn, if you have that sisu thing, you're the girl for --" he broke off abruptly and corrected himself.  "I guess you're really sort of special."      Kirsti hid a smile.  He had been about to say that she was the girl for him, the girl he wanted to marry, and she knew it with joy.  She could wait until all his doubts were gone, and the waiting might make even sweeter the day when he could tell her that he was sure.  He started up his team, urging them on through the snow with voice and gentle touch of the whip.  Helen Markley Miller, Kirsti (1964), pp. 199-200

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